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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
INTERNATIONAL NARCOTICS CONTROL STRATEGY REPORT, MARCH 1996: TURKEY

United States Department of State

Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs


TURKEY

I. Summary

Turkey does not produce illicit raw opiates, or precursor chemicals. However, as a natural land bridge it is the key transit route for southwest Asian narcotics moving to Europe. The majority of heroin seizures and arrests in Europe involve Turkish traffickers and narcotics that have transited Turkey. Recent large seizures suggest a rise in Turkish heroin available in the US. Turkey is the site of major processing of imported morphine base into heroin primarily for export markets but also for internal consumption. Turkey is a producer of licit opiates for the pharmaceutical industry, but there is no evidence of diversion from the licit crop.

Turkish authorities cooperated closely with the United States and saw record success in their 1995 drug interdiction efforts, but better equipped traffickers moved the majority of their illegal narcotics undetected. The Turkish Parliament authorized ratification of the 1988 UN Convention in 1995 but the instrument of ratification has not yet been deposited with the UN. The Parliament has not yet passed implementing legislation on asset seizures, money laundering, controlled deliveries or chemical precursors.

II. Status of Country

Turkey's geographic location as the land bridge between southwest Asian drug producers and western consumers makes trafficking its number one narcotics issue. Istanbul, a megalopolis with over eleven million people, is a key drug transit and processing center. Heroin and hashish move through Istanbul to Europe and, to some extent, the US. Major Turkish, Iranian, and other international trafficking organizations operate from Istanbul, maintaining contacts with source areas and production centers in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, eastern Turkey and the newly independent states in Central Asia, as well as distributors in Europe and North America. The terrorist PKK (Kurdistan Worker's Party) uses heroin production and trafficking to support its insurgency against the GOT. Traditional drug-trafficking 'families' and trafficking organizations also continue to be active. Traffickers continue to use Turkey's overland routes to smuggle Captagon to the Middle East.

DEA estimates that perhaps half of the opiates and hashish arriving in Turkey now move by air and sea routes, as ethnic strife in Turkey's southeast and the conflict in the former Yugoslavia disrupt traditional overland routes through Turkey and the Balkans. However, thousands of trucks continue to traverse Turkey each year, enabling traffickers to move large quantities of drugs overland from Asia to Europe. Civil unrest and tenuous border controls, severe poverty, and corruption in the former southern Soviet Republics have also spawned new overland trafficking routes through Central Asia converging in Istanbul.

There is no reported illicit poppy cultivation in Turkey. It is recognized as a "traditional" poppy growing country by the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) and the USG for licit cultivation of opium poppies to meet legitimate world demand for cooking and pharmaceutical uses. The Turkish government allows cultivation in designated provinces under careful monitoring, pays high prices for poppy straw, and levies heavy penalties for lancing poppies to extract opium gum. Due to its effective controls over cultivation and production, there is no evidence of diversion into illicit channels.

The government's Bolvadin alkaloid plant uses the concentrate of poppy straw (CPS) method, grinding up the entire poppy plant, which has not been lanced, to produce anhydride morphine alkaloid (AMA) used by international pharmaceutical companies. The CPS factory is the largest of its kind in the world. Turkey increased cultivation 137 percent in 1995 because of increased demand for its morphine related to India's inability to meet opium contracts with the pharmaceutical industry in 1994.

A dramatic surge in 1995 seizures of acetic anhydride (AA) imports, plus the discovery and destruction of eight heroin labs, indicates that traffickers have increased processing activity within Turkey itself. Imported morphine base is converted into heroin, using the essential chemical AA, primarily for export but also to supply the small but rapidly rising domestic consumption. Processing labs have traditionally been located in remote parts of southeast Turkey, and recently been found with increasing frequency in the Marmara region south of Istanbul.

Turkey's Parliament has not yet passed the draft bill against money laundering introduced in late 1994; hence money laundering is still not prohibited or controlled. Turkey is considered to be a high priority for the USG's anti-money laundering efforts because of the lack of banking controls and the likelihood that some drug profits are returned to Turkey for investment in legitimate businesses. The Central Bank requires banks to identify customers and to report transactions above three billion Turkish lira (50,000 USD) every month. This information is reported to the Treasury and Finance Ministry. The banking law requires banks and financial institutions to maintain all documents-- originals if possible--related to their operations. The Turkish commercial code requires all entities to keep their records for ten years.

III. Country Action Against Drugs in 1995

Policy Initiatives. Turkey has an integrated three-year narcotics strategy, now in its second year, to boost the effectiveness of interdiction efforts and better coordinate donor assistance. In 1995 the Turkish government approved a significant, much-needed increase in narcotics police manpower in Istanbul, and 100 additional officers are now working on drug investigations there.

In late 1995, the Turkish government shepherded an important draft bill on money laundering, asset seizure, precursor chemical and controlled delivery through all required parliamentary review committees, but it was not enacted prior to Parliament's adjournment for elections. The next government will have to resubmit the bill for parliamentary committee review, but such second-time reviews are generally faster than initial ones. The draft legislation is not perfect, but its adoption would be a major step toward meeting Turkey's obligations under the 1988 UN Convention and the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

If the draft legislation is enacted, money laundering will become a crime, and a new "Financial Crimes Research and Investigation Administration" will be created with sole responsibility for enforcement. Upon enactment, the bill will strengthen existing asset seizure laws to bring them into compliance with the 1988 UN Convention. It will expand existing controls on essential chemicals from just AA to both the importation and domestic use of all chemicals listed in the 1988 UN Convention annex. The bill will allow controlled delivery both domestically and internationally, whereby narcotics discovered to be transitting Turkey can be delivered and tracked to their destinations abroad so that investigations can identify major traffickers in consuming countries. Previously, narcotics have always been confiscated immediately upon discovery, impeding investigation of drug trafficking organizations.

Accomplishments. The day before adjourning for national elections, Parliament authorized ratification of the 1988 UN Convention, but the instrument of ratification has not yet been deposited with the UN. Also in 1995, Turkey enacted a tax law requiring every citizen to have a tax number and to specify that number in every financial transaction. However, regulations to ensure implementation of the law have not yet been issued, so many financial institutions are not asking for and recording customer identification.

The Government of Turkey (GOT) strongly supported a regional chemical conference hosted by the United States DEA in Istanbul in September 1995. Officials from almost 30 countries concerned with regional essential chemical interdiction attended the conference, conducted by DEA's Office of Diversion Control with support from the European Community.

Law Enforcement Efforts. Turkish enforcement agencies--the Turkish National Police (TNP), Jandarma (rural police), Customs and Coast Guard- -cooperate closely with the US and other user countries, aggressively pursue drug investigations, and assist in the prosecution of drug traffickers. The Turkish authorities responded fully to USG requests last year for documents and evidence needed for several investigations, and their cooperation was critical to the success of a major case with direct US impact. Following a multi-year DEA/TNP investigation, Turkish officials facilitated the rendition to the United States of a key drugrelated money laundering fugitive to face federal charges. Millions of dollars in financial assets in the US and other countries were seized as a result of this investigation.

Turkish interdiction efforts were very successful in 1995. Turkish authorities seized record amounts of heroin (over 3 tons), cocaine (56 kilos, or several times the prior peak), and acetic anhydride (about 53 tons). They also seized over 16 tons of hashish and significant amounts of opium and morphine base. Arrests reached a record high of 4,690, and eight heroin labs were found and destroyed.

Even with their best efforts, Turkish authorities stop only a small part of the four to six metric tons of heroin and morphine that DEA estimates transit Turkey each month. This is partly due to continued manpower constraints. Istanbul's recently augmented anti-drug force remains thin at an approved strength of 240, and the new officers need more training and street experience. It also reflects traffickers' use of sophisticated equipment beyond the reach of traditional police intelligence gathering methods. Limited finances prevent Turkish law enforcement agencies from purchasing comparably advanced equipment.

Corruption. As a matter of policy, the Turkish government does not encourage or facilitate the illicit production or distribution of drugs or other controlled substances, or the laundering of drug money. There are, however, instances of alleged corruption within the police and criminal justice systems, perhaps exacerbated by the low pay of police officers. While senior law enforcement and most other government officials fully cooperate on narcotic interdiction efforts, drug cases have been compromised at the investigative level, and there are problems of corruption once apprehended traffickers enter the judicial system.

Agreements and Treaties. Turkey is a party to the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (but not to its 1972 Protocol) and the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances. Parliament authorized ratification of the 1988 UN Convention on November 22 and the Convention is expected to become effective for Turkey shortly. Turkey has signed several bilateral agreements for narcotics interdiction. Extraditions between the United States and Turkey are governed by the 1979 Treaty between the United States and Turkey on Extradition and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters. Turkey is a member of the G-7's Financial Action Task Force (FATF) for the prevention of money laundering. It is the only FATF member not to have taken significant steps to meet the recommendations of the FATF, although legislation bringing Turkey into substantial compliance with the recommendations came within hours of passage prior to the adjournment of Parliament in November.

Domestic Programs. In the last few years, domestic drug consumption has increased from Turkey's historically very low level. An INL-funded survey by the widely respected Istanbul Research and Treatment Center for Alcohol and Substance Addiction (AMATEM), and surveys by other Turkish institutions indicate that 4-7 percent of high school and university students have taken drugs. Usage among non-student youth may be equal or higher. This problem has been noted among both rich and poor in Istanbul, and is spreading to other cities and rural areas as well. The GOT is implementing demand reduction programs in the Istanbul area, with the Turkish National Police organizing programs in the schools.

IV. US Policy Initiatives and Programs

US Policy Initiatives. The USG continues to urge the government to pass legislation on money laundering, asset seizure, chemical regulation, and controlled transfer. The USG also encourages Turkey to play a greater regional role in coordinating interdiction and training efforts with the newly independent states. The USG is providing assistance and guidance to AMATEM Clinic via programs to better analyze drug addiction patterns and to conduct outreach training for family doctors to recognize and treat drug abuse.

Bilateral cooperation. The US and Turkey cooperate closely against narcotics trafficking. The USG focuses its assistance to the TNP on training and equipment support for intelligence gathering and interdiction operations. The USG is assisting Turkish Customs to improve interdiction at Turkey's main land border crossings with Bulgaria, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Georgia. In 1995 the USG inaugurated a new program to expand Turkey's Customs Service monitoring of shipping in the Marmara area, through which pass most seaborne narcotics and precursor chemicals bound for, from, or through Turkey.

The USG also inaugurated a new project with AMATEM clinic to develop outreach training for general practitioners and family physicians in the early diagnosis and treatment of drug abuse. The USG is also providing computer equipment for AMATEM to analyze addiction patterns, user profiles, and treatment results.

The Road Ahead. Turkey faces an increasing flow of narcotics, as production in Afghanistan burgeons. Economic and political troubles across the huge swath of land from Pakistan north and west to Turkey encourage steady streams of narcotics flowing via multiple new routes to western markets. Domestic drug abuse is on the rise in Istanbul and is spreading outward, covering the spectrum from the poorest elements, who typically use glue, hashish, and heroin, to the richest elements of the population, who typically use cocaine. Against this backdrop, US assistance across the board--for training, search and detection equipment, and for AMATEM's work on diagnosing and analyzing drug abuse- -has never been more important.

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